Resident Self-Portraiture: A Reflective Tool to Explore the Journey of Becoming a Doctor

Abstract

This arts- based project creatively introduces residents to photography, self-portraiture and narratives to document the longitudinal journey of becoming a family physician. Visual arts and writing can foster reflection: an important skill to cultivate in developing physicians. Unfortunately, arts based programs are lacking in many residency programs. Tools and venues that nourish physician well being and resilience may be important in today’s changing healthcare environment and epidemic of physician burnout. Residents created self-portraits with accompanying narratives throughout their three-year training. Analysis of the portraits and accompanying narratives completed the assessment. Residents created a body of work that includes 182 creative and deeply personal portraits and narratives. The five most frequent themes of portraits included “Residency is Difficult,” “Hobbies,” “Family,” “Growing as a Doctor,” and “Coping Mechanisms.” Self-portrait photography and reflection gives insight into the journey of becoming a family medicine physician at a deeply personal and professional level. Further partnerships between residency programs and the arts should be explored to promote reflection.

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Correspondence to Christy L. Tharenos.

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Tharenos, C.L., Hayden, A.M. & Cook, E. Resident Self-Portraiture: A Reflective Tool to Explore the Journey of Becoming a Doctor. J Med Humanit 40, 529–551 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10912-018-9545-x

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Keywords

  • Resident physicians
  • Arts-based research
  • Photography
  • Self-portrait
  • Physician burnout